Apple's taking AI slow but Siri is still getting smarter

While some of Apple's most advanced features won't arrive immediately, Siri's still getting a serious upgrade in iOS 18

Apple Intelligence
(Image credit: Apple)
Quick Summary

Unusually for Apple, some of the headline features announced for iOS 18 won't be included on day one of its release. But while some features won't ship until 2025, Siri should be significantly better when iOS 18 ships in September.

If you've been following the iOS 18 news from last week's big Apple event, you'd be forgiven for thinking all the clever Siri features Apple announced won't arrive until 2025. But while Apple is definitely taking it slow with AI, or what it calls Apple Intelligence, Siri is still getting some big upgrades later this year.

One of the fun changes you'll be able to make when iOS 18 releases is to change the wake word that gets Siri to pay attention – although in the current beta at least you can only do it on your iPhone, not on your HomePods, and only if you have the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max. And Apple also says that Siri will be able to hand off to ChatGPT later this year, albeit possibly not in the very first iOS 18 release. 

That said, some of the really big features won't be here until 2025. Here's what you'll be waiting for.

What Siri upgrades you'll be getting – and what ones you'll have to wait for

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, his sources tell him that the following features "likely won't be coming until 2025":

  • Semantic indexing, which will enable Siri to understand what you're asking for based on the content on your device and your personal data;
  • Precise device control, such as showing a photo of a specific person wearing a specific thing and then editing and sharing the photo;
  • On-screen awareness, where Siri can see and understand what you're doing and use that to inform its answers.

However, the 2024 Siri will get a new interface, better conversational abilities, better voice recognition and an enhanced Type to Siri option for those of us who prefer to type rather than talk. And Apple's AI will be able to summarise documents and other data, generate images and create custom emoji.

The reason for the unusually slow rollout of iOS 18's headline features is at least partly because Apple doesn't want AI to blow up in its face: right now the AI sector has a tendency to overpromise and under-deliver, and that's something Apple is keenly aware of and evne more keen to avoid. By rolling out the more AI-based features slowly Apple can hopefully avoid disasters such as Google's AI summaries telling people to put glue in pizza or jump off bridges.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).